Adolescence is divided into 3 stages: early (12 to 14
years), middle (15 to 17 years), and late (18 to 20 years).
While certain attitudes, behaviors, and physical milestones
tend to occur at certain ages, a wide spectrum of growth and
behavior for each age is normal. Consequently, these
guidelines are offered as a way of showing a general
progression through the developmental stages rather than as
fixed requirements. It is perfectly natural for a teen to
attain some milestones earlier and other milestones later
than the general trend.
- May experience adolescent growth spurt (girls usually
develop 2 years earlier than boys).
- girls: changes in fat distribution, pubic hair, breast
development; start of menstrual period
- boys: testicular growth, voice changes, pubic hair,
- May try to experiment with body (masturbation).
- May have moody behavior.
- Struggles with sense of identity.
- Is sensitive and has a need for privacy.
- Is anxious due to increased social and academic stresses.
- Starts to look for loving relationships outside of
- May become opinionated and challenge family rules and
- May try to "show-off."
- Becomes increasingly self-sufficient.
- Usually seeks out friends with beliefs and values similar
to those of his or her family.
- May be preoccupied by appearance.
- Influenced by peers about clothes and interests.
- May be influenced by peers to try risky behaviors
(alcohol, tobacco, sex).
- Mostly bases judgments on concrete rules of right and
wrong, good or bad.
- Thinks in terms of the present rather than the future.
- May start to think abstractly and about complex issues.
If you have any concerns related to your teen's own pattern
of development, check with your health care provider.